There isn’t anything Delmar “Smokey” Seal won’t do for Orange High School’s athletic programs.
Whether it’s running the chain gang during Friday night football games, helping prepare the fields for various events or scaling 100-foot lightposts to change bulbs, he’s a jack of all trades for the Hornets.
Seal’s been doing these things for 27 years now, and he says he doesn’t plan to stop helping out anytime soon.
“I like to stay busy,” he said. “My wife and I would come to the games, and I would be up and walking around, trying to burn off all my energy. Finally, she said to me, ‘Why don’t you just volunteer to help out with whatever the teams need done?’ Here I am, still doing it all these years later.”
Orange director of student activities Mike Neeley expressed tremendous gratitude when asked about Seal’s contributions to the greater good.
“He’s done just about everything for us for many, many years,” Neeley said. “He is as reliable and selfless of an individual as you’ll find anywhere.”
Seal’s dedication to Orange is truly a family affair. His wife, daughter, daughter-in-law and son-in-law all teach for Orange County Public Schools, and his son is a resource officer for the high school.
It’s the kind of dedication that is unwavering, even in the face of an angry nest of bees atop one of those 100-foot lightposts.
“I’ve been stung more than a few times while changing the bulbs at Porterfield Park [home field for the Hornets’ football and baseball teams],” Seal said. “But what can you do? You aren’t going anywhere when you’re that high in the air, so you grin and bear it. The work has to be done.”
Orange will show a little bit of everything on offense, from a spread attack to a pro-style look. But expect Jaylen Alexander to be involved. The all-region back has rushed for more than 2,700 yards and scored 27 TDs over the last two years combined, averaging 6.5 yards per carry. Senior incumbent Walker Johnson, junior Sihle Mthethwa and sophomore Paul Poirier are in the midst of a quarterback competition. Mthethwa will play some wide receiver if he doesn’t win the competition. Jireek Washington and Dougy Newsome return as starting receivers. On the line, seniors Justyn Staples (6–2, 270), Garrett Pitts (6–6, 265), Jacob Mathews (6–1, 235), Ricardo Flores (5–9, 250) and all-region pick Colby McGhee (6–4, 270) all return.
Flores returns at one of the end spots to anchor the Hornets’ line in their 3–4 set. The other end will be junior Rebel Fretwell, while space-eating junior Raymond Pierce (6–1, 285) is the frontrunner at nose tackle. Orange’s linebackers are an experienced group, led by seniors Noah Carey and Wyheem Vessels in the middle. Alexander and another senior, Chance Williams, will patrol the outside. In the secondary, Washington and Newsome will man the corner slots and Hale and junior Donald Brooks will be the safeties.
Flores returns at punter and could take over kicking duties as well, given Washington’s responsibilities on offense and defense. Washington, Hale, Newsome, Mthethwa, Poirier and Alexander are all vying for time in the Hornets’ return game.
The Bottom Line
With 16 starters returning, including the workhorse Alexander and their entire offensive line, the Hornets could be a playoff contender in their first year as a member of Region 4B. But a treacherous nondistrict slate that features matchups with North Stafford, Eastern View and Courtland could also lead to a slow start.
QB: Walker Johnson (6-1, 175, Sr.)
RB: Jaylen Alexander (5-11, 210, Sr.)
RB: Hylton Hale (5-8, 150, Sr.)
WR: Jireek Washington (5-7, 150, Sr.)
WR: Dougy Newsome (6-0, 165, Jr.)
WR: Sihle Mthethwa (6-0, 165, Jr.)
LT: Garrett Pitts (6-6, 265, Sr.)
LG: Justyn Staples (6-2, 270, Sr.)
C: Ricardo Flores (5-9, 250, Sr.)
RG: Jacob Mathews (6-1, 235, Sr.)
RT: Colby McGhee (6-4, 270, Sr.)
K: Jireek Washington (5-7, 150, Sr.)
DE: Ricardo Flores (5-9, 250, Sr.)
NT: Raymond Pierce (6-1, 285, Jr.)
DE: Rebel Fretwell (5-10, 240, Jr.)
OLB: Jaylen Alexander (5-11, 210, Sr.)
ILB: Noah Carey (6-2, 225, Sr.)
ILB: Wyheem Vessels (5-9, 200, Sr.)
OLB: Chance Williams (6-5, 225, Sr.)
CB: Jireek Washington (5-7, 150, Sr.)
CB: Dougy Newsome (6-0, 165, Jr.)
S: Donald Brooks (5-6, 135, Jr.)
S: Hylton Hale (5-8, 150, Sr.)
P: Ricardo Flores (5-9, 250, Sr.)